Quick little post about a weekend lunch. No big revelations, just good funky Korean food with guts!
We had actually wanted to try out VanSoba but we got there at 12:50pm and they were already sold out of their handmade soba in little over an hour!! Their posted hours are 11:30am – 4:00pm, so that was a bit of a disappointment. 🙁 Ah well, next time. (See Kinome review for a taste of handmade soba.)
We googled for something else to eat and came up with South Castle Korean Restaurant on 2nd St. near Lonsdale Ave. in North Vancouver. We’ve actually been to the South Castle location in Coquitlam way back in 2012. Turns out this North Van location is the “original” and that they licensed the name for the independently-owned Coquitlam location. Menus are slightly different between these two locations, but both locations sell Korean sausage that is actually stuffed intestine. Food with guts!
Bit of a weird building. There’s actually above-ground and below-ground businesses. South Castle is the place right in the middle of this photo, between Weeds Glass & Gifts (cough) and Coral Court Szechuan Cuisine. Horizon Spa Massage and MiMo Hair are actually downstairs.
If you drive by, you might miss this restaurant because the English name isn’t very prominent.
I hope the Korean menu on the wall is the same as the English menu…
Before you balk at the price of the “Grilled & Stir-Fried” section, be aware that those dishes are meant to be shared (as is typical in most Korean restaurants), and can easily feed 2-4 people.
We settled on a large #1 (Soup with Korean style pork sausage and organs)…
…and a #9 (Stir-fried pork intestine with spicy or mild sauce on a hot plate). We got “mild” for both items. Great idea cuz “mild” had plenty of heat for us!
Lovely water stain on the wall. I find most Korean restaurants to have a slight patina of grime.
#9 – Stir-Fried Pork Intestine with Mild Sauce on a Hot Plate. They serve plain white rice here. I remember the Coquitlam location served purple rice.
A lot of Korean food cooked this way ends up looking like a generic red-sauced pile. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste good though 😉 This #9 contains pig intestine (chitlins/chitterlings), sweet potato noodles, onions, and soybean sprouts. Here’s the side dishes (banchan) in detail:
Slightly sweet and spongy fishcake-like strips.
Radish kimchi. No cabbage kimchi was given, but we didn’t miss it.
My Korean readers probably know what this is. We had no idea. It contained little dried shrimps. We thought that it was maybe Korean fish sauce but it just tasted salty. We did like dipping our organs into it though 😀
Pickled onions and green chilies. Wicca did not touch. Flavours of soy and sugar, similar to those marinated potatoes you sometimes get as a banchan.
We sorely miss the bigger selection and more unique varieties of banchan we’ve had at other places long lost to time. If anyone knows of Korean restaurants that offer truly outstanding selection of banchan, let me know on Instagram or in the comments below. My favourite has to be Fernbrake/Fern Bracken/Gosari. Maybe I’ll just splurge and walk into H-Mart with a $100 bill and leave with a stack of pre-made banchan and pig out at home…just a bowl of rice and a spread of banchan.
#1 – Soup with Korean Style Pork Sausage and Organs.
That’s the Korean-style sausage (soondae/sundae). Sweet potato noodles and blood inside. To me it’s a deluxe kind of soondae because it uses not just a casing but an actual length of intestine so you get to taste all the walls 😛 There’s a slight funkiness permeating the dish, but it’s a good funk that’s almost a flavour of its own that complements the other hearty, comforting flavours.
The soup also contained pork tongue, liver, and spleen. That’s a thin slice of pork tongue with the outer tongue membrane still attached.
Back to #9, the stir-fried intestine: if you can make it out through the mess, you can see that they actually crispen/char the intestine slices before mixing them into the dish. Funkier than the soup, but the funkiness subsides after the first few bites and it just melds into this delicious funky, sweet, spicy, rich mound of classic Korean flavours. Super glad we got mild cuz it was plenty spicy without sacrificing flavour.
Charred slice of intestine, anyone? God forgive me for loving that funky essence. It just triggers my appetite! Mmmm, fried tender elastics.
Love the sweet potato noodles in this dish too. I liked the overall balance of this dish. Sometimes Korean places make their gochujang-based dishes too sweet. South Castle was just right.
As a comparison, here’s a couple photos from 2012 of the other South Castle location in Coquitlam:
They serve fancy purple rice.
Intestine and organs on a hot plate. Similar to #7 on the North Van menu. Coquitlam calls this Assorted Sun-Dae with “irresistable sesame oil flavour”.